On reading John Bunyan, C.H. Spurgeon concluded that this man “is a living Bible. Prick him anywhere; his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his very soul is full of the Word of God.” Obviously, Bunyan made a strong impression on young Spurgeon. The intimacy between the pages of the Bible and Bunyan’s spirit are evident in his writings and life. They shared a relationship that I long to deepen myself. Wouldn’t you love to have Spurgeon say of you what he said of Bunyan? If you were cut open, what would spill from your spiritual veins?
As you pursue a deeper involvement with God’s Word in your life, here are some suggestions.
Pray the Bible
When God gave man a mouth, He gave it a purpose, too. From Genesis to Revelation, our tongues are being made ready for their ultimate, eternal testimony: “that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father” in the new heavens and new earth (Philippians 2:11). From the very beginning, God designed our speech to be primarily directed to Him—mouths inhabited with the language of God. When God speaks to Adam, Adam responds. We were created to always respond back to God first. Our mouths are best employed in the service of God. “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!” (Psalm 150:6).
The women in my church have been studying through a book on wisdom. Every day we encourage each other to read through a chapter in Proverbs and pray based on that chapter’s words and themes. Praying the Bible helps us ingest the Word, as well as digest its power. Choose a book of the Bible and commit to praying through it daily. You may choose to pray 5 verses at a time, or the whole chapter. The prayer requests are endless. But God’s words are sufficient!
Read the Bible
Every time we open God’s Word we are welcomed by God’s language—exposed to His vernacular, his idioms, expressions, words, vocabulary. When we open the Bible and study it, we put God’s words into our minds and hearts. When we pray the Bible, we speak God’s language to ourselves and back to God. The fact that God chose to make Himself read-able to us should amaze us! More beautiful than the waves of the oceans, the glistening of the snow on Christmas Eve, the smell of the newborn, or a gorgeous sunset—more glorious that all these glories is the Word of God in our hands for our feeble eyes to see.
We all hunger every day. Our daily cravings prompt us to seek tables of food. But none compares with the table the Lord is hosting for the needy. His divine hands prepare only food and drink that cause our “soul to live” (Isaiah 55:1-3). If you hunger for more of the Bible, bring your hunger to the table of the Word! If you don’t hunger but know that you should, the invitation to the Lord’s table still stands: ask Him for hunger even as you hold his Bible in your hands. He will put the hunger in your spirit and the craving in your thoughts.
Listen to the Bible
It takes about 75 hours to listen to the entire Bible. That’s 4,500 minutes. If you commit to listening just 30 minutes a day, it will take about 150 days; 21 ½ weeks; 5 ½ months to finish it all. With Bible Aps available on our phones, listening to the Bible can be done anywhere and anytime.
God gave us His Word to be read and heard. Listening to the Bible is good for our faith. “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). Bonhoeffer reminds us that listening with the ears of God helps us speak the Word of God. Good listening helps us feed of God and share Him with those around us. We rarely think of good listening as a ministry. And yet, good listening is a ministry because “it is an act of love” (David Mathis). It trains our minds to quicken our ears for “listening” while putting the brakes on our lips. (James 1:19).
Write the Bible
We rarely “write” anymore. We type. We print. We copy and paste. The act of “handwriting” the Bible seems remote, unnecessary, and at best, a waste of time. But is it really? God commanded the kings of Israel, when they begin their ruling, to “write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law.” Why would they do that? Because “it is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the law to the right or to the left” (Deut. 17:18-20). But kings were not the only ones to write them down. The whole Israelite community were to “write [the words] on the doorposts of the house and on the gates” (Deut. 6:9). Why would they do that? “lest they will forget” their Lord who brought them out of slavery.
If Bible-writing was good for the kings and common Israelites, it must be good for the 21st century app-filled, alarm-built, notification-ridden, calendar-swamped forgetful civilization. Writing down God’s words is a task fitted for our hands because it coaches our minds and hearts in the arena of God’s precepts. Writing compels us to slow down and take notice. The enormous 66-book-Bible is made of chapters, and chapters are made of verses. But through writing, we are forced to notice the detailed words within.
Memorize the Bible
Tattooing the Bible on the lobes of our thoughts benefits us until we die. In fact, it may even help us through dying. But it sure makes the biggest difference in our living. Chuck Swindoll wrote, “I know of no other single practice in the Christian life more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture […] No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends! Your prayer life will be strengthened. Your witnessing will be sharper and much more effective. Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change. Your mind will become alert and observant. Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced. Your faith will be solidified.”
I began writing verses on index cards, storing them in my journal. As my Bible morning routine solidified, I began memorizing one verse a week. Every morning I read and work on memorizing the verse, and then review the ones from the previous weeks. It’s a simple routine but it is the best way I know to commit God’s words to my memory . “Hiding the Word” on my mind will surely not return to God empty. Even as I mother and wife, serve and minister in my church and town, I am convinced that God will do a thousand things in me as He brings to my memory the intricacies of His living Word.
Meditate on the Bible
Like a tree planted by the abundance of water is the Christian who plants herself in the Word of God. The leaves of Christ’s salvation in us will never wither because of the living water welling up inside. If the grass withers in our souls is not because the water has drained: it’s because the roots decided a different land may be better for them.
Meditation requires us to sit in the Word. It is the active process of rolling the Word of God through our thinking and giving it quiet time to renew our minds. Meditating on the Bible is not an option, but a command: “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful” (Joshua 1:8). It’s evident from God’s command that meditating on His words centers us on him by de-centering us from us.
Taking a step in the right direction: learn from the silkworm
Don’t let the list of suggestions stop you from beginning somewhere. Truth is, the complexity of our bodies, mind, and soul offer us channels of knowing God even better—be it by using our eyes to read the Word, our minds to memorize and mediate on it, our ears to listen to it, our mouths to pray it. The goal is not to be everywhere on the list that we are truly nowhere at all through our senses. Instead, as you build yourself into the richness of God’s Word, take time to linger at each step. Spurgeon encourages believers to learn from the silkworm who doesn’t just crawl over the leaf, but stops and bites from it until it is all consumed. “[S]o ought we to do with the Word of the Lord—not crawl over its surface, but eat right into it till we have taken it into our inmost parts. It is idle merely to let your eye glance over the words, or to recollect the poetical expressions, or the historic facts; but it is blessed to eat into the very soul of the Bible until, at last, you come to talk in Scriptural language, and your very style is fashioned upon Scripture models, and, what is better still, your spirit is flavored with the words of God.” Spurgeon calls every believer to bite from the Bible daily, not to marathon over it quickly. He calls for Bible-worms, not Bible-a-thons.
Even as you begin to feast on the Bible, be encouraged that Jesus made it possible for our souls “to be flavored with the words of the Lord.” We are granted access to the very written word of God because the keeper of our soul is the heart of the gospel Himself. More than bleeding out from our veins, the gospel keeps our very hearts forever beating on the eternal rhythms of Heaven.